Inside Politics

NDP MP pitches e-petitions as Tories drop the time allocation hammer yet again

As the parliamentary calendar draws ever closer to the summer recess, New Democrat MP Kennedy Stewart will get his first opportunity to convince his fellow MPs to back his pitch to "enhance the current paper-based petition system."

Not only does he want to see the rules changed to allow signatures to be gathered online, but he'd like the procedure and house affairs committee to "consider, among other things, the possibility to trigger a debate in the House of Commons ... when a certain threshold of signatures is reached," provided that it also garners the support of at least five MPs.

So far, no fewer than 20 MPs have signed on as co-sponsors, including Conservative Brad Trost and newly minted Independent Brent Rathgeber. 

Although the opening round of debate slated to take place this evening, the bill likely won't go to a vote until the fall, which would give Kennedy a few months to muster up the dozen or so yeas on the Conservative backbench that would be needed to make it through second reading without the official support of the government, should it fail to find favour with the front bench.  

Before that gets underway, however, MPs will spend the morning sequestered with their caucus colleagues for what may (or may not) be the final weekly Wednesday confab before the summer recess, with the House set to reopen for regular parliamentary business -- in this case, Question Period -- at 2pm sharp.

Once the daily exchange of talking points has wrapped up, members are slated to vote on a trio of private members bills, including NDP Leader Tom Mulcair's proposal to boost the powers of the parliamentary budget office by making Kevin Page's successor a full officer of parliament.

Later this afternoon, the government will, as it has nearly every day for the last two weeks, move to impose time allocation, setting its sights on second reading stage of its crackdown on counterfeit products, to which precisely ten minutes of post-midnight House time has been devoted to date, which wasn't even long enough for the parliamentary secretary on the Commons graveyard shift to finish her introductory speech, let alone for an opposition member to share a question or comment. 

On the committee front:

After a final round of testimony from victims' advocacy groups and individuals, Justice members are scheduled to begin clause-by-clause review of the bill on the government's bid to tighten the rules for those deemed not criminally responsible this evening, which could put the bill back on the Commons agenda as early as tomorrow.

Over at International Trade, MPs will continue their now officially marathon-length study on the Trans-Pacific Partnership with briefings from departmental officials before going behind closed doors to discuss unspecified committee business.

At Defence, MPs will get an update on the state of Canada's mission in Afghanistan, courtesy of Joint Operations Commander L. Gen Stuart Beare.

Finally, on the Senate side, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will field questions on his efforts to improve the witness protection program at Legal and Constitutional Affairs.

Out and about on the Hill media circuit today:

  • Green Party Leader Elizabeth May teams up with Independent Bruce Hyer to release a Members' Report on passenger rail -- which, according to the advisory, was commissioned by Hyer, and "details how current rail policy has come off the tracks."
  • New Democrat MP John Rafferty heads to the Centre Block press theatre to discuss his private members' bid to "get tough on those who assault public transit workers," which he "hopes will deter these violent attacks."

Meanwhile, Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier heads to Montreal for the International Economic Forum of the Americas, while in Saskatoon, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt reveals an "important investment" in skills training for First Nations youth at the Saskatchewan Aviation Learning Centre.   

For up to the minute dispatches from the precinct and beyond, keep your eye on the Parliament Hill Ticker below -- or, alternatively, bookmark it and check back throughout the day. 

Mobile-friendly auto-updating text feed available here

NOTE: Updates added in reverse chronological (newer to older) order.

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